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Semantee Chattopadhyay
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In addition to the unavoidable challenges of motherhood meaning in men also struggle with unnecessary pain because of unrealistic expectations. Women hap of unexpressed feelings of guilt, shame, conflict, inadequacy in regards to motherhood. Feeling guilty about child care, conflict about working, feeling responsible for adult children’s choices, wondering if you are a good enough mother and if you are messing up your kids. If we could travel back in time a few hundred years we might see families working together in agrarian communities. Children were producers in family life working beside their parents for their survival. Motherhood and fatherhood for integrated into everyday life centre on work. The social change in the mid-1800s treated what is referred to as the cult of domesticity. In this world, few women or at least upper and middle-class women were believed to be so pure and morally superior to men that their lives were best lived in the private sphere creating a sanctuary at home for husband and children. The motherboard was put on a pedestal. Women’s natures very narrowly defined and an idealized view of motherboard emerged.
Recently during the high wave of covid 19 in India, someone tweeted a picture of a woman cooking while wearing a nebulizer attached to the oxygen support. The picture was titled “unconditional love, mother- she’s never off duty.” This rightfully triggered a heated debate online. Like other physically and emotionally demanding vocations, this one too placed on a pedestal, even as the mother was herself to the bone. So that extolling maternal love we soften the blow of the labour of motherhood. But interestingly our cultures sing paeans to mothers, but they don’t lend support to their roles. Where is the social, emotional, physical, support infrastructure? It took much backlash for the government of India to realise that the child care leave of the central government was so sexiest because only women employees put off for child care. So we epitomize motherhood and mothers because it conflicts this distinction between one’s naturally assigned identity, which is as the birth giver, and the socially assigned persona as the caregiver. This helps convince women that caregiving is their highest moral duty. While caring and sacrificing for another thing makes us human, and beautiful, and these need to be cultivated, but not when they are expected exclusively from one gender in the service of the other.